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The Bee Adventure Continues

I have finally had a few moments to devote to my bees and there is much to record.

The easiest hives to check are obviously on the home front (the Wilton Apiary) and all were doing fine except the Little Big Horn hive which was on the verge of a major wax moth (and some SHB larvae) incursion. This hive was a  split off of Geronimo, done very late in the year. The single reason that I did it was because of finding nearly a dozen swarm cells in the hive in late July. I had been concerned about them from the start, as they never had many bees out front. I had thought this was primarily because they did not receive the foragers in the split. They have a queen, which I assume was from one of the swarm cells, but they simply never recovered. As of the latest check (within the last week), there were not enough bees to protect all of the honey and pollen (the wax mouths were not on the 3 frames that the bees occupied, but they had started on most of the rest of the frames.)

As with anything related to bees, you simply cannot draw a definitive conclusion off of one incident because of all of the variables involved (well, you can if you have a thousand hives that you can judge, which I don’t!) It does, however, reinforce my other experiences with July splits. They are not for the faint of heart, at least not when you have a drought going on. I did freeze all of the frames (except the ones that the bees protected) and still have them in the chest box now. It will be interesting to see if the bees (whatever hive I drop them on) will still use the honey. It still looked good to me, except for the webbing and moth/SHB eggs on it here and there.

The four established hives looked great, with at least 50 lbs of honey on all of them and no sign of problems with varroa. I did drop some 2:1 mix on Geronimo, as they had not finished drawing out two deep frames that I had stolen from them for a swarm in early July.

As to Mountcastle, both the Albo hive and the Westover hive looked very strong. Albo has enough honey (1.5 deeps and one medium) that I will probably be able to use some of it for emergency feeding of my Nuc’s.

The Haupt hives, all of which are Nuc’s, are a mixed bag and I am not certain whether they are strong or not. Apache is definitely strong (more on that one below), but the other three are a bit of a question mark for me. They only have five frames, so it’s not like they can have a lot of honey anyway. But, Bob and the Blue Cottage Hive both have a ton of capped brood (2.5 to 3 frames worth), so it appears that they are prepping for winter. I will probably have to feed them all winter. The Apple Orchard Hive is probably a wash and I will combine it soon.

As to combining, I have long been debating about whether to combine two weak hives or not. Many old timers tell you that combining two weak hives just creates one weak hive. It is better to pinch the queen on the weak hive and combine it with a strong hive (just to give the strong queen/hive an added boost for the Winter.) I can sort of see their point, but I will probably test it out every so often, just to see what happens.

But, when I checked the Westover Aviary yesterday, I found out that the Moe Hive was without a queen. I had not checked it since August 2, so I do not know when they went queenless. No capped brood. No eggs. Tons of honey and nectar. A medium amount of bees. Now, there is always a chance that they swarmed and the virgin queen was somewhere about. But, I never saw her and the Moe Queen was an unknown. This whole hive was a new genetic pool. On the other hand, I had a strong Nuc (Apache) with 5 full frames and a ton of bees. I decided to combine Moe with the Apache hive and hope that the Apache hive would prevail. I picked up the hive from the Haupt’s aviary and placed it on the bottom of the Moe Hive, with a single layer of newspaper between them. The Apache hive has one of the resistant queens that I picked up outside of Jetersville this past Summer, so I hope that this queen does prevail. If it does, the hive will basically be set (Moe had a deep and two shallows that were about 80% full of honey – I’d estimate a 100 lbs of honey altogether once you include what Apache had.)

I wasn’t able to check Curly, as a tree had fallen over it. The tree didn’t touch the hive, but it basically surrounded it with its limbs/leaves. Bees were all over the landing board, so I feel good about them. But, I have received permission from the Westover Plantation landowner to cut the tree up this week sometime, at which point  I’ll check on Curly.

My main plans right now, outside of the Westover tree, are to move an established hive (I am thinking Berkeley) to the Haupt’s apiary (I want a strong hive to put my double Nuc on) and to do something with the Little Big Horn bees and Apple Orchard bees (a combine of some sort)

At any rate, the beat goes on…

1 comment to The Bee Adventure Continues

  • Doug Ladd


    2 thoughts as our experiences this summer seems similar.

    1) rearrange the combined hive so that the honey is above them not so much below them, and with all your hives sometime or the other this fall move any pollen loaded frames to outside the brood nest, bees cant move pollen like honey, they cant cluster on it, and thye wont need it till jan/feb when brood rearing starts.

    2) the frames of foundation undrawn, you need to place them above the brood nest to temp the bees to draw them and keep pushing tons of syrup, i had some very strong hives this summer i did late splits on and have been feeding for months now and they didnt touch the frames until i placed them above the brood nest. Something to think about b/c time is running out. worst case in the end just before winter if they are undrawn/unfilled move them to the outside bottom box where they will less likely be needed, remember bees cant cluster on foundation so having it in the middle somewhere will work against them.

    Just my thoughts…

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